Monday, April 22, 2013

The Manxman (1929)

Beefing on Hitchcock
The Manxman

Pete, a fisherman, and Philip, a politician, are friends from childhood, but when Pete goes away to find fortune and gain the approval of his love Kate's father, Philip and Kate carry on a secret romance in his absence. Upon hearing the news of Pete's death, Kate is less sorrowful for his demise, as she is happy that her love affair with Philip can finally become public. Unfortunately, Philip believes this might hurt his chances of becoming Deemster (a judge on The Isle of Man), and chooses to keep it secret. The conflict of Philip putting his career before his romance with Kate grows even stronger when a very much alive Pete comes home, rich and ready to marry Kate.

Her father, unaware of the secret romance, happily accepts Pete as his son-in-law, while Kate regretfully agrees to marry Pete at the insistence of Philip. After Kate bears a child, she finally admits to Pete that the child is not his and that she loves another. Kate, rejected by Philip, attempts suicide and is taken to court where Philip is Deemster. Pete speaks on her defense, and when Kate's father finally realizes who her lover is, all is finally exposed. Philip steps down from his new position in shame, and he leaves with Kate and the baby to the jeers of onlookers.

The Manxman was Hitchcock's final all-silent film, before his transition to sound. It's a fairly solid movie, despite being somewhat simple and straight-forward. One thing I particularly noticed was that in the love triangle, all three parties were very sympathetic.

Normally, especially in modern cinema, the "odd man out" is portrayed as a very unsympathetic character, causing the audience to better accept the couple and the rejection of the third. In The Manxman, however, you feel for all three and the situations they each are in... This wasn't a circumstance of ill intent, and you find yourself generally liking both men involved and the woman. Despite this, the ending works well even though things don't work out perfectly for Pete. The final shot helps a lot with this, being Pete happily sailing on his fishing boat. It makes one think that perhaps he would have understood in the long run, if only they had been honest with him upon his return.

While it will never fall into my list of "favourite" Hitchcock films, The Manxman still was quite enjoyable and entertaining. It shows a lot of growth already in his direction and style, and I'd definitely recommend it to anyone interested in silent film.

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